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Elliot Abrams; Max Boot; Jay Nordlinger Education. (2012) Panel 'Foreign Policy and Chambers Is Witness' Message Relevant Today?'

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China 16, U.s. 8, Us 7, America 7, Cia 6, Whittaker 5, Baghdad 4, Europe 4, United States 4, Eliot 4, Iraq 4, New York 4, Elliott 3, Charlie 3, Clinton 3, Kgb 3, Cuba 3, Islam 3, Israel 3, Latin America 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Elliot Abrams; Max Boot; Jay Nordlinger  Education.   
   (2012) Panel 'Foreign Policy and Chambers Is Witness' Message...  

    January 1, 2013
    9:05 - 10:10am EST  

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others. and a test of a classic is whether it remains relevant with the changing times, change in cultures. if they can do that, then it can fight its way continually in the world of great books. and certainly this is, has all of the elements of it, many of them really quite strange and almost mythological. this strange matter of lionel right in the middle of the journey before "witness" comes out, a book about whittaker chambers in which literary critics find the alger hiss character, but he never heard of alger hiss. strange kind of pre-figuration there. and then the images driving all night to hide documents and a pumpkin on his farm. the old woodstock typewriter and the typeface that told the
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story. the warbler that richard nixon used to trap hiss in his cross-examination. and these things, they live in kind of a mythological memory. it was in "the new york times" about three weeks ago or so, a little box, a warbler had appeared in new york city, in manhattan. the time to photograph it and made a reference to the work of, we're going to talk about today. and then i think a classic, enhanced by the seemingly never ending decades of controversy in which the defenders of alger hiss tried to make their slanders of the author of "witness" stick. today, i want to introduce the
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three panelists, and this is an amazingly powerful group we have here. all at once, and then leave it to them, they will take it over. each i hope making the remarks about 10 minutes, and then we will put it to the floor for further discussion. elliott abrams has had a remarkable string of positions, of enormous importance. i know him going back to the early reagan years. he began, my knowledge, with human rights. that was really something intellectually to come in behind the jimmy carter, human rights and the state department through pat gary and. in charge of latin american affairs, and then positions in the white house. in every case, he really always
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brought the deeply moral and intellectual realm into the work that he was doing in practice and in policy. and now he is the truth teller in an entirely new career, it seems to me, on an issue, the middle east and the arab-israeli problem, telling the truth when the truth is very rarely to be found, or twisted it and i would say speaking of classes, i did want to give a plug to i think the first book you did, maybe not the first, but called and due process which is a classic of washington i think of no one should go to washington without reading that book. max boot, in the time when the laws of war and the strange symmetries of warfare, the principles of strategy seem to be overwhelmed or out of date, he has become the authoritative
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voice on military affairs, always with amazing consistent unquestioned integrity, which is also kind of a rarity in a field which is marred often by politicization and score settling, and has invisible armies looks like to being a major, major work. i haven't seen it yet but we are looking forward to that. jay nordlinger, who i just met a moment ago, i think we all here realize that serious thought on international affairs requires the widest range of reference that you can't just focus on one corner of the strategic realm. and he, you see his name in the office line, you know that you're about to get something with tremendous explanatory power, and whose rights go across into the culture of the country and the arts, beyond the
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usual washingtonian a country and -- washingtonian. and also a great phrase for finally calling into account that annual fraud, the nobel peace prize -- [laughter] -- after his book as they call it, peace, no one can ever say nobel peace prize again without saying so ironically. so i'll turned over to them, and i think we will start with elliott, if that's okay. >> thank you, charlie. we first met when i was a very young assistant secretary trying to figure out how to get around the department of state, and i got guidance into the true secrets of how the department
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works from, charlie was then the top assistant to secretary schultz. those secrets remain buried. were not going to talk about that, don't worry. i have a few points to make, and a couple questions to raise about the ways in which "witness," and one might say more generally as communism are relevant today. the first, the place where "witness" i think clearly is relevant, and that's when we deal with the great communist power of the day, china. chambers, this is a passage i like a chambers wrote, what i had been fell from me like a dirty rags. the rags that fell from me were not only communism, the materialist modernize the voluminous shroud which it has -- paralyzing in the name of rationalism, his soul for god. and nine in the name of knowledge from the reality of
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the soul and its birthright and that mr. on which new knowledge falters and shatters at every step. closed quote. we now watch the solis chinese communist party battle chinese christian, chinese, and believe that if they can only offer a few more departments or better factory jobs in poor cities, that will provide the patch of the chinese yearning for freedom. in that sense, chambers wrote about communism and its failures is quite -- i think the a tougher question is the relevant of what you wrote to our, today with islamism. here, the other side relies on faith, and our side essentially in europe tends to rely on
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materialism. this was a struggle of the human soul, chambers wrote, but we often seem to believe that the answer to the islamism is simply more employment opportunities. we are in a sense in a position that we criticized chinese leadership for having. but even here on the islamic question, chambers had some interesting things to say. he wrote that code, the difference between liberalism and communism was in degree only. this question arose from the previous panel, continuing, both put their faith in man and rejected faith in god. therefore, they shared a common worldview. there is -- chamber so that we could not fight communism with its new relation liberalism. if he were alive i think he would say we cannot fight violent islamist extremism with an ideology that is different from it in degree only and shares a common worldview with
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it. namely, nonviolence islamist extremism. if that seems obvious to you, it has not been obvious to many governments around the world. for example, the government of the united kingdom which spent about a decade financing and promoting what it saw as nonviolent islamist extremist groups under the theory that only they could talk and dissuade the violent extremists. only to conclude in the end, really about the end of the blair period, that the shared worldview was disastrous, and that obviously they should be backing anti-extremists, individuals and arguments. chambers story, as has been said, is not only the story of the loss in faith but the acceptance of faith. in the current islamist case,
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the analogy is not perfect. but there is an analogy. after all, chambers was born into a faith and culture of christianity in and around new york in the first decade of the 20th century. he did not in the end about some foreign religion. he adopted his own religion. that of his ancestors. similarly, we don't have to seek to have islamists convert to what is to them a foreign religion, but rather reframe the islam of their own ancestors, one than poisoned by the extremism we associate with office in and al qaeda. the problem for us is communism and christianity were very much a part of western culture, something we are very knowledgeable about and suitable to fight over. islam is different. it's hard for us and for our own government to be effected in the struggle within that religion. i just want to also note by the
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way, because charlie mentioned a novel, the middle of the journey. witness was one of the greatest autobiographic works. i guess would say darkness looms, perhaps one of the greatest or the greatest novel about. they have very political impact in part because they were great literary works, works of art. there are some islamic works about breaking with extremism. the islamists, radical. but i don't think, i mean i don't read arabic by don't think there are any such works better great works of art scene from the point of view of literature. i believe we still await such a work. too brief final points. "witness" was written partly to awaken us to the domestic threat
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that we faced, something that in this case odyssey demonstrate. so one question is, is that less and still relevant? the threat of terrorism from al qaeda or hezbollah may be great, but it comes from foreigners, not misguided americans. or does it? should we be more concerned about the attraction of such extremist views to american citizens? finally, the old issue which also came up in the last panel, chambers pessimism. he thought -- with you think that today? he wrote that in this entry within the next decades will be decided for generations, with the whole world will become a free come or whether in the struggle of civilization as we know what it will be completely destroyed or completely changed. the collapse of the soviet union meant that the future of communism is decided i think, however long it takes, it will
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collapse in china, too, i believe. yet, his tragic sense of life would've kept him from being pollyannaish about western civilization. human societies like human beings live by faith and die when faith dies, he wrote. certainly in europe you would see that faith dying. similarly he would have watched faith, in that case, and communism, died in the ussr, and we are seeing faith and communism died in china. wiki see faith dying slowly now in our own country while yet it burned so brightly in so much of the muslim world? or would he see the extraordinary action of christianity in africa and latin america and china, or of evangelicalism in our own country as a sign today of new hope? icu that for a discussion period.
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thanks. [applause] >> well, i'd like to begin by quoting admiral stockdale, who famously asked who am i, and what am i doing here? that was the very question that came to me when nathaniel invited me to sit on this panel. the first thing that occurs to me is that perhaps i had been invited as i am the owner of a hat that looks remarkably like the one that whittaker chambers models on the cover of this program. [laughter] it's possible i've been invited because i'm also an avid viewer of a showtime series homeland, about a jihadists trader working his way up into the highest levels of the u.s. government position himself for a run at the vice president and the reminiscent of the -- alger hiss or a henry wallace. i think the more obvious reason why i've been invited is because nathaniel is extremely very,
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extremely, extremely, extremely, extremely, very, very, very persistent and he would not take no for an answer, even though i kept explaining to him that i have very little knowledge of whittaker chairs beyond having read the book when i was approximately 16 years old, like many people, and having been influenced by. i do not feel i'm in any way an expert on chambers or "witness" or its influence on impact but nevertheless i am here and i will talk as directed. and what i'd like to talk about is actually picking up a little bit from and where eliot started come and i might add by the way, i kind of fighting that both ellie and i happened to hail from position, the council of foreign relations that whittaker jim snow that would've seen at a hotbed of pinko commie sense but nevertheless the world changes. when i think of tonight, but i think about it is, when i think of it i think not just of the
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fact that it is a document of great little repower, which, of course, it is and is part of its appeal, but also the fact that it was this very potent weapon in this ideological battle against communism. that was raging when it came after it was not a weapon that was designed, funded or created by the u.s. government but nevertheless it became a very powerful instrument of warfare against the appeal of communism. and i'm sure and not deleted millions of people in the united states and no doubt around the world to the appeal of communism and revealed its true face, which the communist hierarchy did so much to keep hidden. there was of course a much larger war, ideological work on what i think more accurately can be called political war being waged by the u.s. government and by a lot of individuals, including folks like pat sitting there, against the appeal of communism. and i think the message that a take from that period, from "witness" and from not just from "witness" but for many other
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manifestations of this struggle, whether you think about radio free europe, radio liberty, the congress for cultural freedom, in counter magazine, or for that matter, cia secret funding that was provided to christian democratic parties in europe to resist communists appeal's, or in japan, or much later on in the 1980s the efforts that were made by the u.s. government to fund and support solidarity, to undermine the communist regime in poland. or when you think about the role that was played by the u.s. government in helping to smuggle the gulags or capello out of russia and to see that it was published and received a wide audience but what i think of all that i think the articles here and lessons we should learn from the present-day for the ideological struggle we face today. and it's not an ideological struggle against china, even though china may well turn out to be a great adversary in the long run but china does not really have a transcendent
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audiology at the moment it is really fueled by nationalism and having discarded most of its communism ideology. but when we think the ideological struggle today the obvious one is against the forces of jihad is extremism. and i think that there are lessons here from the days of "witness" that we can learn in terms of how to wage today, what was then known and i think should be note again but as political warfare. and since george kennan was previously invoked by his greatest explainer and student, i thought i would begin by invoking kennan once again from a 1948 memo he wrote on the inauguration of organized medical warfare, to define what i'm talking about when i say political warfare. kennan had a pretty good definition think it's the implement of all means that a nation's command short of war to achieve its national objective, such actions are both overt and covert. they range from such overt actions as political alliance, economic measures, obvious example being the marshall plan
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to western europe. and white propaganda to such covert actions as clandestine support of friendly foreign element, black psychological warfare, and even encouragement of underground resistance and hostile states. i think most of those are actually pretty relevant today with and about the great struggle going on and across the muslim world between the forces of extremism and those of moderation. and i do think, and i'm sure many here would disagree with me, that there are many in fact most muslim are wide open to the appeal of moderation, but the moderates i think need a helping hand because they are at a disadvantage in the competition for influence against well-funded extremist, who by definition are willing to go farther into more than moderates are typically willing to do in order to seize power. now, when i talk about waging political warfare i don't have in mind some of my think misguided efforts that characterized the u.s. government in the wake of 9/11. when, for example, president
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bush appointed of course in advertising executive and then a political spinmeister to run the public diplomacy section at the state department that i think we are too caught up at that point in thinking of public diplomacy as a way to sell brand america essentially and get people to love the united states. i don't think that's really the point of this. because i don't think that while it's nice to be popular, i would certainly hope everybody would love america as much as possible, i don't think that's the key to victory in the struggle. i think the key to victory is really empowering the forces of moderation over the forces of extremism and violence in the muslim world, and their attitude towards the united states are often accompanied by what they stand on the political spectrum with moderates being much more open to alliance and cooperation of the united states than the radicals. but i don't think the united states is necessary the key to the story. it's really an internal muslim struggle which we have the capacity ugly to affect at least
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the margins and we should try to effect at the margins because the outcome matters very greatly door interests and, in fact, your security, even at home. my concern is that while we have done some things very well over the course of the last decade we have not really done a good job of waging political warfare. what we've done really well over the course of the last decade is killing a bunch of radical extremist leaders. obviously, a great example being the raid that killed osama bin laden. and, of course, the last decade jsoc, the joint special operations command which is the home of the tier one special operator, the seals delta force and so forth, headed by for many years by somebody who is now a yale professor, stan mcchrystal, has become a finely honed killing machine, kill and capture machine i should say although we don't do much capture these days because we don't have a legal framework for holding terrorists. at the cia has also gone into that business. really helped along i general petraeus when he was its
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director. and together, those two organizations, jsoc and the cia, have been very, very good at killing or capturing a large number of leaders of al qaeda and various other allied organizations. that's, i'm all in favor of the. i'm not against those rates. i'm not against those drone strikes but i think it's necessary. i also believe it's insufficient and the analogy that i would try would be to the kind of campaigns we have waged in iraq and in afghanistan. in iraq we're doing an excellent job of going after individual bad guys from really from the start of the war up until the end. and there were notable successes, the capture of saddam hussain, and so forth. joint special operations command became this amazing machine that was conducting a dozen raids at night in iraq. but it was really not sufficient to win the war. so we did some other things, and so we had what, what would be known as full spectrum
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counterinsurgency which involves more than just killing or capturing enemy leaders. it also involves many of the lines of operation. security operations. also dealing, in a limited way some of the economic and social concerns, reaching out, for example, to tribes to try to bring them into the, sunni tribes, tried to bring it into the larger structure of iraqi government. so the kill or capture peace is essential but it's only one piece of the larger pool. if we focus on that alone i don't think we will be successful in this battle that's going on in the muslim world. my concern is right now we are largely favoring the kill and capture peace especially in places like pakistan and yemen, somalia to some extent and some other states. i don't think we really have great strategies of waging political warfare, and that i think is what we really need to do. that is a cat that needs to be filled and i think we can be -- the gap that needs to be filled, and we can draw lessons of the cold war as how to do that.
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and the need to do that i think was really brought home to me by a meeting i had a few years ago, i think in 2008 in baghdad, with a fellow who was a very grave a rocky holloman thing, either brave or suicidal, maybe some combination of the two, who dared to visit israel on a couple of different occasions and thought iraq had actually normalize relations with israel, for which sentiments he faced attempts to get him in prison, which he successfully beat, and in an iraqi court, he did not however manage to stop extremists who, in 2005, attacked him and his sons and killed his two sons in retaliation for his country and visiting israel. but he was not discouraged and he ran for parliament and you want a seat in 2005. but i remember being with him in his living room in baghdad in 2008. ..
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about this with emma scott, one of the great experts who was an insider during this period. we did jerry little to stop them especially in 2010 under the obama administration when they took it very hands-off attitude basically saying we are not going to get involved in the outcome of the iraqi political debate. all we care about is having free and fair elections. to my mind, that is a mistake
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and it's proven to be a mistake in practice, because it's allowed a essentially the elements to seize power in iraq. but it's a mistake that wasn't made by our forebears in the days of the cold war. in the early days of the cold war the truman administration and eisenhower administration didn't take the attitude we don't care of communists come to power in france or italy or japan as long as the host the elections that's all they care about. that was in their attitude and they were willing to do things such as pouring american funds into the political campaigns which on some level may be seen as prejudicial to the interest of free and fair elections which they understood correctly to actually be in the long run interest of preserving democracy in those countries. as agreeing to rethink through some of the -- some of the self-imposed checks we've put on our behavior today where we are terrified of having the cia, for example, be involved in covert funding of the elements of the muslim world in part for some good reasons because we are
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rightly concerned that cia involvement is almost impossible to keep secret in today's world of wikileaks. but all i -- unfortunately our enemies showed no self-imposed limits and the saudis and qataris are practicing dollar diplomacy that are not in congruent with our own and we are standing on the sidelines. and this is a lesson that this is just one example of many of how i think we are failing to wage political warfare. i only have time within a short limitation here today to offer to many other recommendations. but i think we need to do more beyond what groups like the international public institute and national endowment for democracy, which were set up by ronald reagan in 1983 -- i think there is room to do more than they were doing for example freeing the u.s. information agency from the shackles of the state department where it presides and setting it lewis to be more proactive champion of
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the views that we should be championing than is i think the case today. also, doing things like increasing language training for officers in the state department and cia and others allowing them to stay in countries for longer periods of time, getting this kind of nitty gritty sense of what's going on in those areas and how to affect them in a way that is hard to give constant rotations which go on today. again, i don't have time to start out on much detail here, but i think the big message i would want to leave you with is we did know how to wage political warfare during the days of the political war. it isn't easy to do today but it is possible, and i think we need to wage it again. for a start, we could resuscitate the term political war ferry and recognize its utility and the struggle against the jihadists extremism. [applause]
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>> well, i don't have a hat. >> you can have mine. >> but i do have the tie given by the organizers and from press i have never felt more yale-like. you'll probably be though director of the restored cia. i can he knows what is doing and what ought to be done. or maybe should be secretary of state, but will have to wait for brighter times. i have jotted down a series of points that i wish to make, or observations, and in the interest of getting them all in or most of them and i don't think i will bother sticking them together too much. in other words i will be exactly like my web column. i wish to say that i dabble in communism and anti-communist some, past and present. i will give you an example to the past. my next piece in "national review" is sort of a profile of
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the widow of a writer there was very busy heading the archive which is a huge project as you can imagine. and so my piece is a historical piece but of course endless relevance, and i -- i work quite a bit with cuban exiles, chinese exiles on issues of human rights and democracy. i do a lot of this and sometimes in fact often people ask me why, why this great interest in cuba and china. i should do more about north korea and vietnam, laos, st. paul, those are the remaining communist states. china has a lot of people in it. communism isn't a thing in the past for many but a very serious problem of the present. they ask why you spend so much time? won the answer is that it's right to do and satisfying but
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another a answer is that very few do it. you have the field almost to yourself. i used to say i think it is probably less true now than when i started to say this 15 years ago but is a palestinian kid falls and skins his knee will read about it in "the new york times" but you can be tortured to death in the cubin and north torian gulags and no one will ever find out about it. so we all do our bit. when i was coming of age when i was a student there was yapping of human rights, but i tell you what the people around me meant primarily. they meant human rights in chile, marcos'' philippines, and above all, apartheid south africa the was the great cause, the great moral cause of the time. i know who the players of south africa were very well and name political prisoners on the political actors.
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i think i knew the politics of south africa better than the politics of my home town. it was great concentration on south africa. they were banned from the olympics for many years. in the meantime they were held in moscow, etc.. a couple of words about cuba and our relative indifference to the suffering of ordinary cubans but also dissidents, people who starve themselves to death, for example, in hong your strikes and why we go to these extremes. i've spoken to people about this problem, our indifference to cuba and kirkpatrick said it is one of the most painful phenomena of our times. there are so many people but one in particular a man who ought to be on the cover of time and newsweek and we still of covers of time and newsweek there ought to be songs about him, poetry, movies, he ought to be on 60 minutes every other week.
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he's a man named oscar basset come he's a brave man, an aspiring man come a practitioner of nonviolence, and he was a cubin googled as i do not rush to call it, for 12 years. got out last year. i interviewed him as soon as i could. he is a follower of ghandi and martin luther king. perfect. he's even black, but no one cares. che gavara is on a free t-shirt and no one knows who oscar basset is. che gavara and basset. he's someone that all too well the nobel peace prize. he could give it to the ladies in white. these people began they were wives and sisters and daughters and so one of political prisoners caught up in the so-called black springs. they are beaten severely for what they do. they hold a candlelight vigils and the like, and the state can't stand it and it makes
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things very difficult for them. let me quote still known by some of us as a cubin that once wrote a famous important memoir called "against all hope." he said if the dictatorship for right wing instead of left wing we would have won the nobel prize is already. it maybe so. i was saying the every day and the office to the objection of some of my colleagues that the left, if i may come so often sets the agenda. they determine what we talk about even if we disagree, people like us disagree. they determine what we talk about. and there was a man named alan gross and we know plenty about him. i think there will be three years next month. he's not just some ordinary american show or hit the traveler.
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she is an offical worker come a contract worker. he has been a hostage basically of this dictatorship 90 miles from the shore for three years. very little attention. it is a puzzling and painful phenomena. the point about china i think henry kissinger said some years ago the chinese communist party and the state say something like mexico. that may be but i'm reminded of very often certainly by what i receive in my e-mail that it still for all of its changes let's face it it's a one-party dictatorship with a gulag and in the west isn't famous. they primarily made the word gulags famous and they began with an acronym we used to spell of all capital letters and then it got normalized and then we went capital g and lowercase letters. it is and does well known. it is the chinese gulag and there are people fallen on
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practitioners who are approached today in the system certainly as organ harvesting this is a story we need the world relatively indifferent, and i recall something that the contest said people find out about these leader and say how shocking no one said anything. not true. those who say things now even got as far as the four most english-speaking expert on this issue before this harvesting in china. and i think he is a kind of profit early thaw truth teller abn early chamberlain type. if it's cool today how about this stance of the world on china and a little thai won this liberal democracy that is a true liberal democracy put in the light of this idea of a liberal
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democracy and asia are incompatible. south korea puts the lie to it and other people put it to it. what me tell you about davos, the world economic forum. the meat there every year in january, and everyone is there. good, bad and indifferent. i mean nations and governments. my time at davos i've seen for example representative tough saddam hussein's regime and representatives of the mullah's regime in tehran. i sat next to the foreign minister once. that was kind of a creepy experience. guess who's missing? tie one, these democrats in taiwan are not invited because china would be upset. they're more interested -- we have more interest in chinese human rights. hillary clinton said at the beginning of her tenure of the secretary of state i think in 2009 human rights have to go on the back burner because there were more pressing concerns like, and i quote, climate change. that may be so. human rights not the be all and
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end all foreign policy as max knows and elliott knows and we all know. it's hard to get that s held. but i'm reminded of something once said. he was talking about western policy makers. he said you know, do when you've got to do. but every once in awhile, paused to ask yourself this question: how will look to the boys in the camps that find out about things? how would it look to them what you are doing? remember sharanski had these bible readings with a christian leader when it was allowed and they called the readings or their sessions reaganite because the herd somehow that reagan had acclaimed in the year of the bible. and we all know the year of the bible, what a load of, you know, the year of the bible, give me a break. it really meant something to those two.
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so maybe it convenes things to others. the nobel peace committee did, after 60 years of passing over chinese democrats and human rights activists and dissidents and prisoners, after 60 years they gave a peace prize to a leader of the charter 08 who sits in prison today. imagine that. imagine a nobel peace laureates sitting in prison and president obama the other day hailed the spirit of cooperation between the united states and china and maybe there is an argument for that. but these, the fellow nobel peace laureates, obama and you. and they're ought to be some attention. some would say about china in 2010 we the united states held a human rights talks with china. this puzzled me greatly we are a liberal democracy and there are a one-party dictatorship with the gulag we held human-rights talks with them and afterwards after one session the press had questions for our guide is the
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assistant secretary of state named michael prisoner. i fink assistant secretary of state for democracy or something like that. and the press said money duties for talks with of the chinese communist who tortured the tibet and others every single day. our guy in the press it to the arizona immigration law came up and if it did did you bring it up or did they and he said we did early. early and often to show that we too have problems in our society. it's what used to call in the battle of days moral equivalence and it is not gone. final remarks. did you see this video the authority the professor of the montclair university, public university in new jersey denied the soviet union ever told anybody? she wrote a book called khrushchev plotted in the speech when he said that stalin liquidated a few communist
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officials. you know, he didn't own up to much of that secret speech. it was a blockbuster thing but he didn't own up to all that much. and here's a guy -- i believe in academic freedom, blah, blah -- [laughter] what we have a holocaust deniers around the faculty? relief? i wonder. before the conquest he said -- this was in an interview with me a few years ago -- there remains a feeling of don't be too rude to stalin. she was a bad guy, yes. americans for bad guys too and so was the british empire. an apologist for the soviet communism including stalin, the recipient of i think 53 honorary degrees conquest to told the truth about the soviet union won a degree from the university when it was run by a sadly corrupt president who admired
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bob. that says something about academia and something about the world. did you see this poster from the e.u. showing all of the symbols of the euro? it showed a cross, star of david and so on and a hammer and sickle. there is a bit of an outcry from the lithuanians. and i ask why does it take the lithuanians, why aren't we in the west sympathetic enough to the persecuted under communism to object ourselves? white -- why would we leave it to them? i am relaxed about these symbols. we see a guy what they cccp with hammers and sickles and i once did a study on this on a simple magazine piece and some people say it's proof. it's kind of funny.
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you know, you don't see the pictures on t-shirts. it's just a t-shirt. as andrew daniels points out if we only took one good picture in this life he looks like a moon star and he got his cheekbones just right but it wasn't all that much, honestly. this is all regarding chambers, but he was a witness and a truth teller and it was really hard for him to forsake not popular approval but the approval of the people that mattered was colleagues and journalism and what we might call the liberal establishment. that is a very hard thing to do to give that up and to be reviled. by all of the right people he had tremendous guts and i just
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think that he couldn't stand not to tell the truth. the truth simply knawed at him until he had to get it out. she said constantly with not by elias, and i have a favorite story about the difficulty of standing up to receive the opinion and to fashion, and it comes to the supplier of the best stories norman paul ha'aretz and if i mess it up i hope he will correct me but it's a story about joseph brodsky and i think that he said what he was a brave guy that stood up to the kgb. why can't we stand up to the new york intellectuals? and i think he said you have to understand, norman, it is easier to stand at the kgb than to the new york intellectuals. people will admire you if you stand up to the kgb. they will not admire you if you stand up to the books. is the story something like that?
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>> besides, you won't win the nobel prize. that is the literature prize. a final comment about god, who has been mentioned a few times today. it's interesting that you mention god so i am pleased about that and let's see if the supreme court says but let's talk about god reminded me of another story. he said towards the end of his life in an even more august place than this he said of buckingham palace receiving the templeton prize when i was growing up he was in 1919 and this is an intellectual kid come he is a math whiz and before he was quite a mathematician. he was an intellectual kid. so 1919 he was born a boy in the 1920's and a little older in the 1930's. he said the people around him by which he might have met people in their 40's and 50's, he said all the old people around me, simple-minded people said this
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all happened, meaning this catastrophe of power because the people forgot god. give me a break coming superstitious countryfolk. so he studied the soviet union for decades in the camps and out. he was maybe the foremost writer about the soviet union and other books. he said towards the end of his life they can't improve on what those zero people said. they might say what about the jihadists clocks these issues are very slippery and i must say how grateful i am to be here at the symposium and with these colleagues. thank you. [applause]
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>> just briefly before opening to questions to what i heard, the title of trilling's novel is referenced to the first sentence of dante and you get one picture after another of the people that surrounded dante, and it's a picture of one hypocritical person after another. the surrounding climate of opinion there is in the italy and at the time and i think that is so telling in terms of
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witness to what occurred chambers because that is the tone i get almost more important than anything else and that is that he was living in a time and a culture and opinion that just swirled around him that didn't believe him and didn't see these things and couldn't grasp them and couldn't believe that this person could have challenged someone and that was a far ideology that had come into america and was the first that came in the 1930's and 1940's and 1950's in the cold war. and it was one that underneath all said that everything in the civilization was and civilization, was a legitimate, fraudulent, rejected authority and that is what whittaker chambers had to do. then it came back in the 1960's
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through the new left that was a meal marxist revitalization of this, and we got that in the long march. that second time around got into the intellectual bloodstream of the intelligentsia which we now can call them of america. and it's now been several in the recount generations as four years. a lot of generations have been swimming in that stuff. that to me is one of the major feelings i have when i feed back on my reading of "witness." over to you. >> thank you. i have an observation and a question. with the members of the counterterrorism task force that is a group of both federal and
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state officials and the homeland security, secret service, local police agencies and terrorism. what they tell me is they have pretty well figured out a al qaeda domestically in terms of violence and it's pretty unlikely that the anything large will happen. but, they say that the panel they don't have a handle on as the infiltration going on by al qaeda into the domestic intelligence agencies in the defense department and so on. what they tell me is that al qaeda has pretty well figured out and the other islamist terrorists they can't beat the west by blowing us up but they have to use tactics the soviets used against us in the 1930's and 40's. and if you go out on the internet and i would challenge you to do that and google with the left says about challenges
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to the infiltration of the islamic terrorists into the american institutions that what you find is for the tool. you will recall the members of congress raised the issue of hillary clinton's b5 top aide having connections with the ridiculed that is profound they do not get the even question of the infiltration by the american institutions past the censors a few well that are basically in the same position we were. >> it is disrespectful and happening to members of the rotary the "national review"
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it's rude to discuss this issue is and it? >> there were differences. one is that the case was made during the 1930's and 1940's that communism was good for america. and because a wonderful ally. we can't make the case that al qaeda is good for america. and nobody is making that case. so it is not the same as being a member of the public movement that has very wide support and parts of the intelligentsia that isn't true of al qaeda either so it's different in the sense that what you are doing it this is correct infiltrating the individuals into positions where
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they are a homeland. >> i don't like the word homeland. i don't think it is an american word. >> i'm not sure about the analogy of how much of a problem this is. i really don't know. >> i am with elliott. there is a huge outcry the infiltration of the united states government. i think it is a problem primarily in the muslim world where they are able -- it's not just al qaeda but groups like hezbollah and, you know, the pakistani taliban and many, many others. al qaeda and the arabian peninsula, al qaeda and the islamic monrad and many other groups which basically to get into of the chaos and lack of
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strong institutions to promote their brands of extremism, and there is obviously a lot of chaos and a lot of collapse of institutions throughout the greater the least right now because of the arab spring. i don't think this is primarily about along the home front where on the home front the primary danger is from 9/11 period type agents not carried out from the u.s. government, but certainly lower level people that can infiltrate on the defense is and we have to be aware of that, but again line with eliot. i am doubtful there are too many muslim alger hiss's the top echelon on the street. >> i think that -- i don't think that's the key problem. i think the key problem is the view which is very popular in the united states and putting the united states government that the islamists, not al qaeda with the muslim brotherhood is
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the way of the future, is the authentic voice of the muslim world. how do we know it's authentic? they hate america which is the ultimate proof. it reminds me of the old days in latin america when the carter administration fought that the way to the future, the offended voice of the people was groups like the fln and how we know they are authentic? they heeded america. so you see their refusal to engage in political warfare in places like egypt where 48% of the people voted against morsi for president. and right now, today, this week, there are thousands and thousands out in the streets protesting. the state department said expressed concern in the constitutional to a few days ago, concern about the weakest
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were in the state department lexicon. so my fear is you have millions of people in the countries that actually do want to fight for democracy and moderation and the role of law we are not going to support them. we because the administration seems to conclude it the islamists are the authentic voice wave of the future. >> elliott makes one of my favorite plants we are too careless with that word. let's say someone rolls a grenade and blows up a market outside of baghdad and people say you see they don't want us to their. they don't want us there. but they is half of the people and we should forget the affairs.
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but me make just a flint point about the hillary clinton aide. half jokingly but a little more than half serious. i reserve the term that she was married to a anthony wiener the former congressman. and if you have a kind of plant that is one heck of a trick. [laughter] we have other questions, let's take them and then i will out on to what eliot was saying. [laughter] >> one of the things we're talking about is the age-old battle between liberty and tyranny. to use an old phrase hearts and minds, liberty lives in the hearts and minds of people that want to be free, and i wonder if
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you can comment a little that how believe in god and making respect for the mystery of creation relates to the discourse that you have been describing. >> you wanted to add-on. >> i will have to think about that before i can add on. it requires 24 hours' notice. [laughter] what you do is your best and if they are behind on your new curtains you like to know the support even if they can't speak up in their time and place. you give them support regardless and you may find out who you have reached leader after it comes down to it in a sense they
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got the former soviet union when he went there i can tell many stories about this but my favorite is he knew she was there and walked up to him on the street without saying a word he handed him are rose and walked away. he is a conquest that had similar experiences. and i believe in the middle east the names like louis would be greatly honored and others we can think of the middle east studies would be greatly dishonored. the people i meet are liberals. they might as well be fellows at aei. those are just a few of the western-educated. welcome a lot of people will western-educated including a lot of mass murdering terrorists. these people stand for something. and i think you mentioned 48%.
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47% was a magic number in the campaign in egypt the ought to be acknowledged in the society. >> i would add on and say it is a mistake some people commit to say the war against groups like al qaeda has been a war for religion. whether it is whatever your religion might be on islam i don't think these extremists speak for a very large number of muslims and i think what you are saying is a civil war in the muslim world that is going on isn't a war and if daniel was wrong it isn't a war of culture it is within the culture. it's with the command, and certainly there are radical extremists but they are generally not winning their way through the ballot box. they win their way through violence and the key power at the gun point and even when they
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manage to win at about box you see in the case of egypt for example from morsi government make it very hard to invent it from power but on the other hand as eliot included to earlier you see tens of thousands, hundreds of people rallying at the top of the square to oppose that and there is no question the muslim brotherhood won the election and was held share and square but a lot of it is the opposition was organized. there was a lot of what was opposition that the muslim brotherhood had come into the muslim brotherhood was winning not on an appeal of imposing a fee irene ne style of sharia law but was basically on the bread-and-butter to revive the economy to get people back to work. it was tapping into the daily concerns that ordinary voters have all or none of the world. and unfortunately, you may have situations and you will have situations where the radical
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groups can hijack qualities such as in egypt or libya or syria or elsewhere where you don't have a strong push back, and that's what i'm suggesting we and our allies in the west need to help provide support to these brave liberals and moderates in the muslim world who do want to pushback but just need the tools to be able to do so. >> i will try to answer to that question about god and liberty. i think it goes to the idea that in the concept of god we have indeed judeo christian approach that each individual has a soul, and that means each individual is an individual and no to souls are alike and that is the basis for a quality because that means no matter how strong you are, no matter how bright you are, how rich you are, it doesn't matter. you have a soul, i have a soul
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coming and we are equal in that sense. if that's the case we have to have liberty because the individual, there's nothing like that individual's own decision. that gets into the economics of things that we talk about in the book. so, that's the source of liberty when it comes from religion. if you have a religion where the ideology of the regime takes over, that ideology and erases the individual the of the soul e and therefore you don't have liberty. we have time for one more question. >> i'm going to rely on you to get precision to my question, but i sense that there's a continuity or similarity on some
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of the issues that chambers has experienced and in some of the things we are seeing today struck in particular that when chambers first went to the state department wasn't it an issue of people not believing him, but people downplaying the significance of what he said. let's talk about the important news being put on the back pages of "the new york times," so it seems like a lot of the times it is often an issue of before this believe but how much emphasis be put on the various pieces of information of people put, and jay talked about a lot of people putting emphasis on baghdad and less emphasis on the voice here in the middle east. the same thing i think we are seeing with susan in benghazi, okay she might have done it but it's not impot.